The Justice Institute on Long Island is taking the concept of summer camp into the federal courthouse, imparting civics education and advocacy skills that prepare students for college, career, and civic engagement.
A new Judiciary Now video shows how 90 students from 20 middle schools on Long Island spent a week learning from judges, lawyers, and federal law enforcement agents. The program culminated with a mock trial competition, and will be a model for annual summer camps going forward.
“The experience fostered positive interactions with the court and with justice system personnel and left this diverse group of students with positive and lasting impressions that can counter media stereotypes,” said Dina Miller, Federal Bar Association president of the Eastern District of New York Chapter. Miller and the nearby Touro Law Center helped U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco develop the Institute.
The Justice Institute is part of the Second Circuit’s Justice for All: Courts and the Community civics education initiative launched by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann and co-chaired by U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero (NY-ED). Other Second Circuit initiatives include: Courthouse visits, civics education, student contests, reenactments of historic cases, civic ceremonies, speakers, and adult education.
A highlight of the inaugural camp was a keynote speech by Mary Beth Tinker, whose protests against the Vietnam War when she was 13 led to Tinker v. Des Moines, a landmark free speech case for students. The mock trials were based on another landmark case, Miranda v. Arizona.
To find the courtroom-ready, classroom-ready Miranda v. Arizona program materials used at the Justice Institute, and other activities for high school students and their teachers, go to the federal courts’ website at the Educational Resources section.